The Secret Service is running out of money and can’t pay hundreds of agents needed to cover President Donald Trump and his large family, largely due to their frequent foreign and domestic travel.
Following a chaotic election season, officials were hopeful the agency’s workload would normalize after the inauguration, but Trump’s constant weekend trips, his family’s frequent business trips and the sheer number of people the Secret Service is charged to protect, has proved challenging.
Of the Secret Service’s 6,800 agents, some 1,000 have already hit their annual pay caps for overtime and allowances and literally cannot be paid any more money even if they are willing to work additional hours, as pay caps are federally mandated.
Under Trump, the Secret Service is protecting 42 people — a number that includes 18 family members. That’s up from 31 during the Obama administration.
Members of Trump’s immediate family must — by law — be protected 24 hours a day, and that means following them on family trips and overseas excursions.
Since taking office, Trump has gone away nearly every weekend. He has taken seven trips to his Mar-a-Lago estate, traveled to his Bedminster, New Jersey golf resort five times and even returned to Trump Tower in New York City once.
Trips to Trump’s so-called “winter White House” — known as Mar-a-Lago to the masses — and to his “summer White House” — also known as his Bedminster golf course, are especially costly for the Secret Service, which must maintain regular security infrastructure at each while still allowing access to paying members and guests.
The jaunts to Mar-a-Lago cost a whopping $3 million a piece, according to estimates based off of a General Accounting Office review of similar travel costs incurred by former President Barak Obama. The Secret Service has spent more than $60,000 in golf cart rentals so far this year to follow Trump around on links.
Besides Trump, wife Melania and youngest son Barron, Trump’s other adult children also have full-time security details that are costing the country a small fortune.
Trump’s eldest sons Eric and Donald Jr., both based in New York, have traveled to the United Kingdom, the Dominican Republic, Canada and even Dubai since coming under protection. A single trip to Uruguay by Eric Trump cost the Secret Service about $100,000 in hotel rooms alone.
Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner took their family on a ski trip to Aspen, Colorado in March and even Tiffany Trump, the president’s youngest daughter, has racked up some costly trips, gallivanting off on an international adventure to Berlin, Budapest and beyond with her boyfriend earlier this summer.
Alles hopes to relieve some pressure on the agency with a hiring campaign that should add about 1,000 employees by 2019, but he said he would need to rely on the legislature to increase salary caps to get shifts covered and agents paid in the interim.